Series: Contact center planning

Plan interaction flow and queue design


Planning how your contact center handles interaction flow and queue design requires understanding the following concepts:

  • An interaction is an inbound or outbound customer contact — by call, email, or chat — with the goal of connecting the customer to an automated resource or a contact center agent.
  • Interaction routing and evaluation is the process of using business rules to deliver the interaction to the best live agent or self-service option.
  • A queue is a pool of agents dedicated to handling a specific business need — customer service, sales, help desk support, and so on.
  • skill is a tag assigned to a call with information to help route it more effectively. Agents also received skill tags, so when a call for the customer service queue includes a Spanish” skill tag, the interaction routing rules connect the call to an agent also tagged with that skill.

Make sure to consider the rules that govern how interactions route through your contact center, and how to organize queues to handle those interactions. Revisit whether you organize agents into efficient pools, see opportunities to cross-train and consolidate, and find new features in PureCloud to help improve routing efficiency and customer experience.

Consolidating agents into larger answering groups is always more efficient than creating smaller agent queues in a silo environment. Similar to IVR design, the goal of routing and queue design is to get the customer’s interaction to the right skilled agent as quickly as possible, to positively impact the customer experience, and to improve contact center operational efficiency.

Companies often revisit interaction routing and queue design at the same time as IVR design. These two plans are the backbone of the contact center operation and have a significant impact on the customer experience and how efficiently the contact center operates.

Plan ahead and start the conversations early to ensure you can make the far-reaching changes necessary to improve. For example, if you consolidate agent queues, you may need to change the contact center organizational structure, training and hiring, and marketing materials. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to implement real improvements because you didn’t have enough time.

Questions

Discuss the following questions with your team:

  • Is interaction routing and queue design linked to the organization’s mission and strategy and to the Customer Experience Strategy (CES)? This connection is a key area of alignment and a great example of how your CES guides the contact center toward the right decisions.
  • Do you look for opportunities to cross-train agents on different products, services, and handling multiple contact channels (phone, email, chat) to use consolidation efficiencies to your advantage? Contact centers operate more efficiently with larger groups of pooled agents. The smaller the agent pool, the more difficult it is to meet your service level goals and productivity targets.
  • Are you analyzing routing and queue design effectiveness? The goal of the IVR and routing plan is to get every customer to the right resources with a minimum of effort. How do you access the data available to know if you are delivering this goal? Consider cross-functional input, including customer feedback (interviews, c-sat scores, quality monitoring), internal insight from groups like marketing, and usage reports. To improve effectively, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.

    Routing an interaction to an unskilled agent will not support the service levels you’re trying to achieve. In fact, it could reduce them. Customers would rather wait for a skilled agent rather than connect to a friendly voice who would likely transfer them to another agent anyway.

  • How complex is your routing? If contact center routing is overly complex, it can be difficult to handle real-time management and easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Resist the temptation to over-engineer your design.

Actions

Take the following actions before moving forward in the planning phase:

Preparation Assigned to Complete date
When you conduct IVR testing, analyze how the system routes calls and test the accuracy of your assumptions about your current routing and queue design. Do the same for any additional channels. Initiate emails, chats, or whatever other contacts you handle, and evaluate the experience. Did the contact get to the right resource? How easy was it to figure out how to initiate your inquiry?
Verify the accuracy of your current routing design documentation and update the design with current call handling treatment. Document your current customer types (individual, business), contact channels, and contact reasons. Confirm that you address every possible scenario (customer x contact channel x contact reason) in your routing plan.
Analyze your queue and skill matrix to identify opportunities to pool agents into larger queues through cross-training or consolidation of job responsibilities.
Identify and document current pain points, including gaps to be addressed in the new system’s design.